This is not to be confused with the new Tom Hanks film, Captain Phillips, debuting this fall. A Hijacking is a Danish film that, along with last year’s Best Foreign Film nominee, A Royal Affair, is really making me start to realize that the Danes are producing some great film. A Hijacking is one of the most gripping and tension-filled scripts I have watched play out this year. Timing is, of course, highly beneficial to this piece of work and to the upcoming Paul Greengrass thriller. This story takes us deep inside the agonizing period of the captives on the pirate-controlled ship, as well as the negotiation side of things back on land.
On a routine trip to load up cargo in Mumbai and return to Denmark, the MV Rozen is boarded and taken hostage by Somali pirates in the middle of the Indian Ocean. With no weapons or negotiating power, the crew of seven, including the ship’s cook Mikkel (Pilou Asbaek) and the captain, are terrified for their lives and plead with the home office to pay the ransom so they can return home to their families. Negotiations are not easy, as CEO Peter Ludvigsen (Soren Malling) learns while working with a special agent. Days turn into months, and months turn into what feels like an eternity, as the crew begin to suffer psychological effects of living in captivity so long.
In reality, there were 151 attacks on ships in 2011, earning the pirates over 140 million dollars. Clearly, that warrants a couple of mainstream films about the subject. Directed by Tobias Lindholm (The Hunt), this film does an excellent job in building extreme tension in the negotiation discussions. We watch in cinematic agony as Peter, who feels responsible for his crew, withers in discussions with the Somali negotiator. The close quarters on the ship and the small office filled with business partners and special agents listening to talks elevate this to an extremely thrilling piece of work.
When day 67 flashes on the screen, you really begin to ask yourself as a viewer how you might function in a situation like this. The number of days just keeps escalating to an unimaginable figure when we see the crew begin to experience psychological issues. “Time is a Western thing, it means nothing to them,” the expert negotiator explains to Peter when he too begins to become emotionally involved. It’s difficult not to try and imagine this same film with American actors hyped up on more physical adrenaline; however, I think what A Hijacking will do that Captain Phillips won’t, is show us what a drawn out and exhaustive process an event like this is.
Final Thought – A gripping and emotionally charged suspenseful thriller that hooks you and never lets go.
By: Dustin Chase